Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.
- B.K.S Iyengar
Yoga is often cited as a practise of Observation. Rarely does a class go by where I don’t ask the students to just NOTICE what is going on – internally and externally – whilst they are on the mat. So, some of my recent observations OFF the mat are that it is colder and darker and windier outside (…yes bare with me, I know its Autumn). But something else I have noticed is that every year, sometime during late September–early October, a shift within me occurs as the world around me changes. My energy goes down a few notches, and I grow increasingly anxious as I feel I have less of a grasp, and less energy for all the things I anticipated and planned to do. And on the flip side, over the last few years I have noticed an energetic/creative boom that springs up around May/June which I happily and sustainably ride for the sunnier months. But my to-do lists require manual adjusting for what is an automatic shift in me from summer highs to mellower winters. And that is hard for me: to have to accept a need to do less…
…Indeed, four years ago I learnt that lesson the hard way when I proceeded to ignore the growing need for rest and kept going as Little Miss Sunshine – only to burn out. I also hoped it was a one off and that I would get my bounce back for good… but as the years have gone by I have noticed this pattern of an undeniable fluctuation in my energetic levels. And no matter how much ginger and gingseng tea I drink, when the cold winds come it feels like I’m running on one battery pack instead of two.
So this year I am doing my best to surrender to my inner autumn, and as human hibernation is not an option* this means letting myself get a little blown around, as opposed to trying to stand my ground against the inevitable winds of internal and external change. Although this is a little uncomfortable I have found that the landing is much softer when I let myself succumb to the changes of energy, mood, etc. As opposed to when I steadfastly try and cling to or strive towards something that is beyond my grasp, at this point in time, only to get blown right off course. And as a consequence of adjusting to what the weather seems to be asking of me, I am able to conserve and build a little more energy and lightness day by day.
Audrey recently wrote about ‘Ahimsa’, or non-violence, and this is me practising this Yama by cultivating compassion and ‘an attitude that strives to reduce harm’ to myself – which in turn allows me to be a ‘better’ version of myself when I interact with others and the external world. Because as much as Yoga is a practise of Observation, which helps cultivate a greater Awareness, it can help us to find Acceptance in our challenges (… see how all these Yoga things tie together…). And Acceptance is hard – as that is when we have to make the conscious choice to act in a way that is most healthful for ourselves and others – even if it might not be what we had hoped for. Sometimes acceptance involves surrender, but often it requires us to make a conscious shift or active change towards a positive long term goal – which rings true with the Iyengar quotation at the top of this post.
So for anybody else who might feel like they have been knocked a little off balance recently, for whatever reason – meteorological or otherwise, perhaps use it as an opportunity to just observe what might be going on and honour that by making choices that help support you – and by virtue the world around you. So that might mean having a little lie in, practising some bed yin or perhaps just going for a hot chocolate…